When the IT Lights Go Out

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Lights Out

Guest post by Gerard Verweij

This week the IT lights went out for a trio of prominent companies. Was this connectivity crisis a coincidence? Regardless of what causes connectivity chaos in circumstances such as these, companies need a plan to mitigate risks and where possible prevent them.

The dire downtime these companies suffered is a troubling reminder that IT complexity and risk have hit historic heights. Never before have IT systems been so fragile and stressed. Threats are coming from every direction, every day. Whether it’s a hacker or a software update, today’s IT systems are incapable of bending without breaking. And, going dark is a devastating and embarrassing event in our always-on environment where the world is watching a company’s every single move and making consistent commentary while they expect constant connectivity.

Businesses need to adopt an evolved approach to information technology management. It’s time to increase the elegance of IT and remember that simplification is strength. At the same time, companies need to get serious about proactive risk management. Less than one third (31%) of respondents have a fully integrated risk management strategy that ties risk management to the strategic planning process, according to a recent PwC “Risk in review” survey of senior executives.

If you’re ready to heed this call, following are steps to take to fortify and stress test your systems:

• Understand the business risks of systems and technology services interruption. What is the likelihood of service disruption and projected cost of loses?
• Prioritize investments for disaster recovery initiatives in conjunction with business unit leaders; design a tiered model highlighting recovery priorities.
• Validate with IT infrastructure leaders to help ensure alignment.
• Train personnel to test for enterprise wide disaster and technical recovery, since failover and system recovery is essential to success.
• Run tabletop exercises, live tests of data center failovers and failover of individual systems.
• Create a five-year roadmap detailing disaster recovery policies; identify system technical and functional interdependencies.
• Designate the availability and recoverability architecture.

The cold hard truth is that many executives often say to themselves: “it won’t happen to us.” With this news fresh in the minds of executives, now is the ideal time to remind senior leaders that a proactive strategy and plan as well as sound processes, systems and people are necessary to prevent, detect and mitigate risks and issues. Periodic assessments and tests are paramount to ensure you are adequately prepared.

Image shared by damon jah

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